2022s

    Fourteen

    Fourteen years ago we said, "I do." Here's to another fourteen.

    Quiet Contemplation

    One of the benefits of pastoring a church that has been blessed with its own building is having a place to go to pray. On Sundays, I stand at the pulpit and preach God’s Word. On Monday mornings, however, I sit in the pew. I bring my Bible, the latest issue of Tabletalk, and a pen. It is a small change in environment. I could just spend that time doing my devotions in my study.

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    A life of radical dependence

    If it was all up to us, the work of gospel ministry would look a lot like building the Tower of Babel. Over the course of my time as a ministry apprentice, I've found myself learning the same lesson again and again. The life of the Christian is one of radical dependence on God. For my own family, this has been a very strange apprenticeship. It began in Liverpool and ended in rural Scotland with a stopover in Poland.

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    new month, new vocation, new home

    It already feels like autumn. Growing up in the American Midwest meant that autumn didn’t truly begin until October (PSLs notwithstanding). But in the U.K. and Scotland in particular, it feels like autumn from the moment September begins. This is a big month for us. Today is technically my first day in my new role as pastor at Ardgowan Square. While I’ve been working on things over the summer, today is Day One.

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    Burnt toast and catfish

    Jesus saved me while I sat at the kitchen table with my mother. I was just a boy, still obsessed with Power Rangers and Lego. Looking back 25 years, I don't know how much I understood then. But all that I've seen in the years since, what I have felt and experienced, has shown me that Jesus isn't just real. He is who he said he was. I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

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    Edinburgh - a photo log

    I got to catch up with an old friend in Edinburgh this weekend. Here’s what I saw.

    the value of reading: whole books and big sections

    Besides putting together my visa application and trying (slowly) to get our house packed up to move, I'm trying to think through the teaching program for our new church. It's a big task and it's a really important one for this church. Since their inception, they've relied on visiting speakers to fill the pulpit. That means there hasn't been continuous or consistent teaching from the Bible. One of the reasons why I've been called to pastor this church is to do the work of consistent, expositional, rigorous and challenging teaching.

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    Hello

    I'm Dan. Here's how I prefer to keep in touch: By email to dan at danalcantara dot me.All of my public writing happens here on this site. My main projects are here.I got away from the social internet for my mental health and because it proved to be a terrible way to keep in touch.Hello pages are a concept introduced by the brilliant Alastair Johnston.

    Now

    As of 7 August 2023, this is what's going on: I am the pastor at Ardgowan Square Evangelical Church.Studying with the Pastors' Training Course.Slowly building up some ideas for writing in public more.Loving living in the west of Scotland.

    thinking more about music (plus a playlist)

    When I shared about the latest release from Alvvays, I realised how much time I spend thinking about music and how I listen to it. I usually listen to albums rather than playlists. Or I'll go through what I've been enjoying lately and just add it to my queue, making a sort of disposable playlist. Occasionally, I've wished I just had something that I could put on when I don't want to think about it.

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    new Alvvays is worth the wait

    In general, I’ve found that there are two ways to listen to music. Self-expression-by-proxy or mood-management. I land squarely in the second category. I’ve never needed other people’s music to express how I’m feeling. Perhaps that’s because I’m a musician myself. But I very often need music to manage my emotions. To give me something different to think about. And I’ve been waiting five years for this band to add to that.

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    signs of summer

    While it’s been difficult trying to return to running, I have enjoyed going for walks. Yesterday, I went out with one of my sons. It was good to walk and chat and answer a million questions. Now that it’s June, the sun doesn’t set until very late so our evenings are bright. In the last couple of weeks, the hedgerows have burst into life. We had a few days where it was either rain, rain, rain or bright, blinding sun.

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    what's next for my family?

    It's been hard to keep this one a secret. Something that is inherent to ministry apprenticeships is that they come to an end and are supposed to be a launchpad into doing gospel ministry. I'm excited to say that I'm going to be undertaking the role of being pastor at Ardgowan Square Evangelical Church in Greenock, here in Scotland. If you'd like to follow along with my family's ministry updates, you can sign up below or visit thealcantara.

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    what I didn't learn in missions training

    We spend time thinking about contextualisation. Assessing whether we are capable of sharing the gospel. We spend time praying about whatever work it is that we feel God has for us to do. What never seems to be talked about in books about being a missionary is dealing with foreign immigration policy. There are good reasons for this. Every country has a different set of rules and requirements. Those rules might change depending on what country you're starting in.

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    He is risen!

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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    Not starting from scratch

    On more than one occasion, I have had to stop running. This was always due to either illness or injury. At least since I completed the couch-to-5k program during lockdown in Warsaw. After arriving in Scotland, I suddenly found myself with an unexplained, sprained ankle. I still don't know how or when it actually happened. It wasn't while out on a run. When it came time to start running again, I always had this fear:

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    using a smaller notebook

    I seem to go through odd phases with the stationery that I prefer to use. For years, I was all-Moleskine-all-the-time. There was something about that that particular size (13x21cm) that just worked for me. Then I fell madly in love with the Traveler's Notebook (A5-slim). I'm on my second one now, and I've filled multiple refills. Then I discovered big notebooks. I used a Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim for a while. Before that, I used a Life Noble in A4.

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    we made it two years

    Two years of pandemic without a positive case in our house. Now 5/6 of us either have or had it in the last week. I have to say, I’m not a fan.

    We lived happily during the war

    It never ceases to amaze me how effectively poetry can describe a moment. If you'd like to read it, view this poem at the Poetry Foundation.

    a week of serving, learning and eating pies

    I’m recently back from a week of ministry with Maxwell Church in Kilmaurs and Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. This was an opportunity to experience a different church in a different area to see how ministry is similar and different in a new context. I was there with two fellow-Cornhill students, though my experience was slightly different as I stayed in the area overnight. From the outset, what was intended by our hosts was for us to get a glimpse of ordinary church ministry.

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