What’s next?

Edited_Anthony

Anthony graduated in May and, since right around then, the question started popping up in various different forms: What are we doing now that Anthony has “The Degree”? That’s a good question!  I haven’t been trying to dodge it, we’ve just been praying and working a lot behind the scenes and I’ve forgotten to post anything here. Sorry!

That’s okay. So what’s up?

Last summer Anthony and I went to England to explore the possibility of helping with church planting there. While we aren’t going to England, we did learn a lot about church planting there and got a chance to observe how a passion for reaching the lost through the gospel, a conviction that the body of Christ grows best through the work of the local church, and a vision and love for the local people make a powerful combination. It was that conviction that led Anthony and I to begin to pray for God to open doors for us to be a part of church planting in Montana.

In September of last year, we began the lengthy prayer, research, and application process to be assessed by the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) Mission to North America (MNA) Church Planter Assessment Center. We were accepted to the center and, in February, we attended and received a provisional recommendation for church planting in Montana. The “provisional” part is because they recommend that Anthony gets some training in some particular areas before breaking out as a planter alone. In the PCA, this training is usually provided in an 18-24 mos. apprenticeship.

A what? 

An apprenticeship. It’s a fancy word that means Anthony will pursue ordination, shadow and serve an existing church planter, and prepare to launch a new plant. It’s done in these phases and is sometimes called a residency. Sort of like how people in the olden days would train under someone who was really good at something to learn from what they’re doing. But instead of blacksmithing or cobbling, it’s church planting.

Josh Charette at Great Plains Gathering, a plant of Rocky Mountain Community Church, has kindly volunteered to be the planter who Anthony will serve under. We have a flyer outlining more information about the whole thing. You can look at it here.

The short version?

We’re moving to Billings, Montana in August. While there,  Anthony will apprentice under Josh at Great Plains Gathering so that, Lord willing, he’ll be equipped to plant a church in Montana in 2 years.

I didn’t actually ask for a short version. Is there a long version?

Hopefully, Anthony and I will be updating this place more often with longer bits about the why we’re going to Montana, why planting, why Billings and more but this was a quick-ish update so you could get an overview on what God is doing.

Cool. How do I pray for you guys?

For now we’re not going to use this space for updates on how to pray for us. Rather, I’ve set up an email list that’s easier to keep up with where Anthony will regularly post ways to be praying for our family and the ministry in Montana. If you’re interested in receiving email updates on how to pray for us, you can sign up for that here.

In the meantime, please pray as we seek God’s will with this new and exciting step, look for committed prayer warriors, and find people and churches who want to financially partner with us as we spread the gospel in Montana.
1024px-Billings,_Montana_the_Yellowstone_River

Women of the Word Lesson Audio and Handouts

If we want to feel a deeper love for God, we must learn to see him more clearly for who he is.

I’ve had the honor of teaching through the book Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin on Tuesday nights with the ladies at First Pres. The class is meant to explain and guide us in how to read the Bible on our own using basic hermeneutic principles. I’ve used Women of the Word and a few other resources that I thought would help to supplement the study and note in the audio where I’ve deviated from Wilkin.  For this reason, you don’t need the book to do the study but it’s a great and helpful tool if you’re interested in learning more.

I’m including the audio and handouts below for anyone to use. There have been a few tech issues that have slowed down the upload but I’ll link them once they’re available.

Lesson 1 – Introduction to Bible Study

In this lesson, we look at why proper Bible study is important and two things we might need to turn around before we move ahead.

Audio (coming soon)

Handout

Lesson 2 – The BIG Picture of the Bible

In this lesson, we look at the metanarrative of Scripture, i.e. the overarching story and how it informs the smaller storied within the Bible.

Audio

Handout

Lesson 3 – 5 Questions to Ask of the Book

In this lesson we talk about the 5 questions that need to be answered before we study any given book of the Bible so we might have a good understanding of the context. We also look at the genres of literature within the Bible and some helpful tools to help our study.

Audio (coming soon)

Handout

Introduction to Ephesians from the ESV Study Bible

Lesson 4 – The Process: Things to look for in the Passage

In this lesson we looked at process of Observation, Interpretation, and Application, why it’s important when we look at any given passage of the Bible, and we practiced the step of Observation with Ephesians 1.

Audio

Handout

Ephesians 1 printout (Chapter 1, double spaced and wide margins for easy use)

More lessons to come as they’re uploaded!

– Remley

A 2015 Review, Several Days Late

2015-Review
I probably don’t have to point out that this is past the mid-point in January and while most reviews are done in the days leading up to the New Year (oh yeah, Happy New Year guys!) or in the few days following, this one is belated. Maybe classically belated if I’m honest with you about my typical tardiness when it comes to these sorts of things.

So here is a (slightly late) apology for an extended absence from this blog and another (slightly late) apology for this review you never asked for in the first place. Cheers!

2015 was a spectacular year and that’s not an exaggeration. It’s not that there weren’t difficult times (there most definitely was) but it was an overall great year for us.

Together we learned a lot about friendships, family, culture, life, death, spiritual growth, spiritual disciplines, work, and perseverance in ways that I’m grateful for. He was and is faithful.

Some of the highlights:

  • We got lost in Mobile, AL and got to adventure around there for a weekend. This was a much-needed break after a hectic year in seminary and we were surprised at all of the exciting things we could see there and the lessons the Lord had for us. You’d think that after moving across the country for seminary, we’d be pros at being independent and confident and that we wouldn’t feel pressure to conform to an invisible expectation of…whatever. But looking back, this trip was one way that God would “regroup” us. We were never to conform to some invisible societal pressure of… whatever or to be confident in our own independence. We were to be confident in the sufficiency of Christ and root our identity in him. This trip sort of set the tone for the entire year.

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  • Tam started at school. This was harder than I’d like to admit sometimes but it was really what was best for her. Her vibrant, sociable personality didn’t have a good outlet at home with her somewhat-introverted mom. It also wound up being better for everyone else, too. This was a huge lesson for me in humility about knowing my limits and trusting in God that he will take care of Tam.
  • First Presbyterian Church celebrated 160 years. First Pres Crystal Springs has become a wonderful surrogate family for us in the last 3 years and we feel so honored to have been able to be here for such a momentous occasion. It was a great chance to reflect on how we stand on the shoulders of faithful saints who have gone before us.

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  • Anthony finished (another) semester at RTS. So much could be said about how proud I am of all that Anthony has accomplished at school and how relieved and celebratory we were that he had completed his third year at seminary. His schooling is a huge blessing but it’s hard work. We hold mini-parties at the end of every semester and this one was no different except that there was a sense of excitement to it all: he only had one more year to go!
  • Rowan’s 1st Birthday. So much could be said about how this little guy has burrowed his way into all of our hearts and how much we’re touched by his curiosity and sweetness but I’ll stop short of writing an essay and say that he is loved but it’s not been a very difficult thing to do.

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  • We’ve been married 7 years. This one is hard not to gush about but I’ll save that for a later post. Let’s just say that there’s a line in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island where Anne tells Gilbert, “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.’ I will always say this of Anthony. Always.
  • Anthony and I went on a vision trip to England. It was wonderful and beautiful and we fell in love with the place and the people. We are very thankful for both the trip itself and the people who helped us go. Anthony  wrote up a summary of our trip that you can read but I’m sad to say that the Lord led us away from working with the church there. We still pray for the church in England and we’ve applied so many of the things we learned from our brothers and sisters there to our lives that it wasn’t wasted.
  • We got to try the best fried chicken ever made. This might seem out of place on the list but if you’ve ever had the chicken at The Old Country Store in Lorem, MS you’d know it should make a yearly review. Confession: I never cared for fried chicken before living in Mississippi (chicken strips are another story) but this stuff is the stuff of legends. If you want to know more, they did a special video on the Mississippi Public Broadcasting about it.
  • Anthony got Licensed. No not licensed to drive or shoot but licensed in his presbytery to minister. If you’re not Presbyterian, the process might seem confusing (it still seems confusing to me some days!) but here’s a short diagram of the process for a Presbyterian minister to become Ordained:
    Under Care -> Internship (1 yr minimum in most)-> Masters of Divinity somewhere in here -> Licensed -> Ordained
    See?! He’s only one step away from Ordination! Praise God!

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  • I finished my 1st year at Dead Reckoning. I’ve been working for these awesome peeps for a while as Director of Digital Marketing and Strategy and am happy to say that I reached the one-year mark and am still going. It’s been a blessing for me in many ways.
  • Tam turned 4. When did I become a mother of a 4 year old?! She’s so delightful and I’m encouraged by the inordinate amount of love and kindness she has. She teaches me how to be a better person daily and we cherish her.

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  • We applied for the PCA MNA Church Planter Assessment Center. Yup. Church planter. More on that later but it’s pretty exciting.

Was is all candy and roses? No. There were nights of tears for all of us either from spiritual weariness, physical exhaustion, emotional upheaval, or somebody took our toys (that was usually the reason Rowan was crying) but it was a good year.

I’m very excited to see everything that God is going to do in the coming year especially since 2016 means that Lord willing, Anthony will graduate from seminary (!!!) and we will continue to pray for opportunities to serve the Lord.

Evermore and Evermore

(We’ve been singing this song, Of the Father’s Love Begotten, around the house a lot lately and wanted to share the beautiful lyrics with you in preparation for Christmas. It’s an ancient hymn written by Aurelius C. Prudentius in 413.)

Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

Oh, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
Sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the Long-expected;
Let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.


Amen.

Happy Advent, everybody!

P.S. Listen to it on YouTube, if you haven’t heard it in a while.

Sept 11

Rememberance

Sept 11I don’t think I ever realized how important and difficult telling “grown-up” stories would be to my children but this year is the first year that my daughter understands enough that some stories need to start being told. They just need to be explained in a way that she can “get” them for now.

“You have to wear red, white, and blue to your school today, Tam, because it’s Patriot Day.”

“What’s Patriot Day?”

“That’s what they’re calling September 11th. It’s a very special day that we remember.”
“My birthday?”
“No, not your birthday. This happened before your birthday. It’s a day we remember because it was terrible. Not like your birthday. On September 11th we cried and were scared and watched bad things happen.”
“Oh. Why do I dress up for it?”

“Because a lot of bad things happened that day but there were also a lot of good people who helped and who fought to make sure that the bad things wouldn’t happen again. We remember the bad and the good. You know how sometimes you get scared that there might be a monster or a robot in your room?”

“Like Randall?”

“Yes, like Randall. And then Papa comes in and tells you that everything is ok and that you’re strong and God is strong and God will protect you?”

“Yeah.”

“September 11th is like that for America and for your momma and papa. It’s the day we were scared but we saw that we were strong and that God was strong and that He would protect us. That’s what we remember.”

Northern England: A Trip Report

(This is a long-ish letter that we have been sending out about everything we did and what’s up for the future. The difference with this one? We’ve included lots of links in this edition for your enjoyment and pictures that expand when you click on them. Additionally, if you want the TL;DR version, just hit the segments in bold.)

Firstly: Thank You. Yes, you.

At the Peak district

I wanted to thank everyone for the loving support we’ve received. I’ve been encouraged by the gracious encouragement, fervent prayers, and generous donations we’ve been given. It was also a blessing to see how the church of Crystal Springs took care of my mom while she watched our children. It is so great to see the body of Christ at work and humbling to be a recipient of our Savior’s love!

The D-Low

Now that Remley and I have returned from our England Vision Trip, I wanted to take some time to share what we did and what we learned. It was a 10-day trip filled with time to meet the pastors in Northern England, get to know many church members, and experience the culture. The hope was that exposure to these things would help clarify whether our family would fit well. If you want to look at where we went on a map, Rem put together something on Google Maps.

Day 1View of Sheffield

We left the USA on July 9 and landed in Manchester, England on July 10 where Dr. Kevin Bidwell’s wife, Maria, greeted us and drove us to Sheffield. Dr. Bidwell is the pastor who planted Sheffield Presbyterian Church. We spent the first day at their home, getting to know them, their family, and their ministry. We also got to take a hike up a “mountain” to get a panoramic view of the city of Sheffield and took time to pray for God to use the church in that city. We also met a few church members who stopped by the house.

Day 2

The next morning (Saturday), we took a train north into Newcastle where Chris Richards, a deacon at the church in Gateshead (on the other side of the river Tyne from Newcastle), met us. We stayed with the Richards family for the duration of our time in Gateshead and are grateful for their Christian love and hospitality. They were celebrating their oldest son’s birthday when we arrived and were so kind to share their party and cake with strangers from America!

Gateshead MeetinghouseDay 3

The next day we joined the Richards’ and the rest of the Gateshead Presbyterian Church for a full day of Lord’s Day activities. We worshiped with them during the morning service and enjoyed some tea and a fellowship luncheon with the entire church after the service. We then got to rest a little and prepare for the evening service where I preached the sermon.

Day 4

Monday morning, Remley and I were invited to observe a LoveWise presentation for 7th graders at Emmanuel College. LoveWise is an organization co-founded by Dr. Richards and covers sexual education and relationships from a Christian perspective. Emmanuel College is a public high school in Gateshead where, though it’s government funded, a lot of Christian education is done. After the presentation, we met up with Dr. Bill Schwietzer, the pastor at Gateshead and were introduced to Phil Baiden, the pastor at the church in Durham. Dr. Schweitzer took us to lunch in Durham, where we saw the historic Durham Cathedral where N.T. Wright sat as bishop. Afterwards, we went to the Schweitzer’s home where we visited with him and his family and had dinner.

Day 5

The next day we took a train early in the morning to head further north into Scotland where we spent the day in Edinburgh. We saw the Edinburgh Castle, walked the Royal Mile, enjoyed some haggis, and hiked at Holyrood Park. It was a full day of fun “tourist” things. We took the train back to Newcastle that evening and spent our last evening in the Richards’ home.

Greys MonumentDay 6

Wednesday we woke up early and rode with Dr. Richards into Newcastle, where he works. We spent a few hours in Newcastle visiting the Newcastle Castle, the River Tyne, and Grey’s Monument before taking the train south to Sheffield. We arrived in Sheffield in time to enjoy some dinner at the Bidwell’s with a young lady who is helping start the new crisis pregnancy center there and for me to teach the Wednesday night lesson at Sheffield Presbyterian Church. He taught an overview of the book Zachariah.

ChatsworthDay 7

The next morning, Dr. Bidwell took us on a tour of the Sheffield area. While we chatted and got to know one another, he drove us through the Peak District, took us on a walk through a beautiful forested area, stopped at an English Freehouse, and showed us Chatsworth House (the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire). It was a good day of getting to know Pastor Bidwell and seeing the beautiful countryside surrounding Sheffield.

Day 8

Friday was our London day. We took a train from Sheffield into Kings Cross early that morning and then wandered around London for the day. We saw the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels, The Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey (we went inside!), Buckingham Palace, Brick Lane (a.k.a. Curry Lane), St. James’ Park, Trafalgar Square, and Big Ben. It was another very full day but we enjoyed the opportunity to see such a historic city!

Day 9

The next day as set aside as a day to rest from a lot of the traveling and for me to prepare for preaching and teaching on Sunday.

Hill Top ChapelDay 10

Sunday, I taught the Sunday school lesson at Sheffield Presbyterian Church on questions 146-148 of the Westminster Larger Catechism about the 10th Commandment and then worshiped with them for the morning service. Later, I preached the sermon for their evening service. It was really humbling to preach at the Hill Top Chapel since it was built in 1629 and was pastored by an elder who was one of the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Day 11

We took a train in the morning from Sheffield back into Manchester airport where we flew home!

So… Now What?

We had a great time and enjoyed Britain a lot. We got positive feedback from everyone while we were there and anticipate hearing from the church leaders sometime in late August after they’ve had a chance to enjoy some vacation time, pray, and meet with the presbytery elders. At this point, both Remley and I feel good about serving in England in the future and continue to pray that God would open doors where he wants our family to be.

The fields are ripe for the harvest in Northern England. The state church is the Anglican Church and much of the population has faded into nominalism, agnosticism, or atheism and there’s little to no cultural pressure to identify as Born Again or Evangelical. This means that those who choose to identify themselves this way are passionate about evangelizing and hungry for good preachers to help disciple them. They are a small percentage of the English people but we know that God can take the smallest remnant to build his church. He is a great God!

Things To Pray For

Please pray for:

1. God’s wisdom for our family. We are still praying about the opportunity to serve in England and hope God will open doors to go.

2. The leaders of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales. We hope they’re having a good rest after our trip, a good discussion about our possibility of serving there, and the wisdom on how best to lead the people in their flocks.

Thank you again for your prayers and support for our trip.

With much love in Christ,
Anthony

Gateshead Group Photo

This is a group photo taken at Gateshead Presbyterian Church the Sunday we were there. I’m in the back on the right.