So I'm pastor at Banstead Community Church, so local church, which is about 18 years old now, so I'm 25 minutes away from From here, I've been past of there for the last 12 years. Brilliant. And isn't banstead like the highest town in the world? There's there's some ridiculous -- Yeah. -- stat.
Bounces always really cold. So so when them when you think that you go outside, you think it's really, really cold. It's probably about 2 degrees cold or advanced it. It's always away. Coming to your church 1 Sunday and I decided to ride I was like going up with him alone.
Brilliant. So your posture just tell us about your family. Yeah. Mary to Kate, we've got 3 children. We've got Molly, who is almost 23.
We've got Harrison, who you'll hear a little bit about in a moment who's almost 14 and then we've got Wesley who is 7. That's quite a difference. Yes. And how is Church doing because obviously we had COVID and all of that stuff and then coming back, there's a lot of people that feel still unsure and they have all of things. How's Banff said community church going?
I guess there's probably 2 sides to that. I think the first is we're glad to say that everyone who is able to to come back in the churches back now. It took about a year from starting up services to get the final person to to join with us on a Sunday morning. But No, Brian. But actually, 1 of the things that I think we've felt over the last it's quite a bit of loss.
So we're probably into double figures of people in the church who have died. And only 1 of them has been COVID related, but Rest of it has been surprising deaths. We've had people who have used this as opportunity to relocate to other parts of a of a country. Yeah. Exactly.
And and and then we've we've seen some of the French people show them selves to be not that serious about the faith. And and I I guess the the saddest 1 was we had a a lady who decided as a point to it to convert to Roman Catholicism and stuff. So it's been a bit of a, yeah, a fellow loss in in the church, but there's a good spirit, good atmosphere, and there's a good unity which we're grateful for. Dan, thanks for for coming. You're gonna talk about being a cordless man at home and church in difficult circumstances, you know, tell us a little bit about your son.
It's Harrison. Yes. Let me pray. Father, we do thank you for Dan. Thank you for family.
And thank you for the church up there and his leadership in in keeping the truths forthright. And thank you for all that church is doing in reaching Banstead as well. Thank you for bringing down here. Thank you for all the lessons and I guess some very, very, very difficult ones that we we wouldn't really choose, but we thank you that you've brought Dan into these situations and that he can even help us because of those. And so we thank you for this in Jesus' name.
We pray that Dan would feel just comfortable with us. Enjoy our fellowship. And and bless us. We pride in Jesus now. Oh, man.
Thanks, Pete, for your welcome. Thanks. Tim. It's good to be here. Thanks for those who provided breakfast deals outstanding and much grateful for it.
Being a godly man at home and at church in difficult circumstances hopefully in a moment will become clear as to why and Pete's given me this entitled But I want to begin by getting you to think about a question, what is your difficult circumstance? What is your difficult circumstance because I guess all of us will have a difficult circumstance of some sort. I'll tell you mine in a moment, but what is yours? It could be that you have some physical illness. And underlying.
That's very restricting your life in some ways. Could be that you have a wife who's unbelievable or a child who has yet to come to faith and actively is rebelling against a faith at present. Could be that you just feel the pain of maybe singleness or childlessness. It could be that you're having a hard time at work. It could be that you feel lonely.
Yet, you hear amongst a big crowd. But you go home and you feel that loneliness. I guess each of us have a difficult circumstance And difficult circumstances are varied. Another thing before I share mine, I wanna say when we talk about difficult circumstances, things that may be causing us to suffer. This isn't a competition.
And we're not we're not comparing difficult circumstances saying, well, that's that's really counts as 1. Where is that actually actually not not so much? I'm I'm not here to say, look at mine and you think make you think, well, mine doesn't really compare to to that, so it doesn't really matter. No. That is not what I want us to leave here thinking.
Every difficult circumstance will be personal to us, It will affect us in different ways. We want to accept that. And some of us have different capacities to cope with circumstances. You may think, I could never cope with that. And maybe you won't ever have to cope with that, but you will be called to cope with this and that will be enough for you.
So don't downplay your personal circumstance that makes life hard for you, the suffering that you go through. Well, let me tell you about my difficult circumstance. My wife and I adopted Harrison when he was 13 months old. He has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. And what that is means is that his birth mom and basically drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy.
Think about your body. Think about every cell in your body. Imagine that every single 1 of them was damaged by maybe just 1 percent That probably gives you an indication of the damage there. Harrison's body has gone. He's basically brain damaged.
And he's associated with his fetal alcohol syndrome. He's got global delay. So he's 14. His short stat his short stature. He's on growth hormones to try and get him up to a reasonable height.
But yet he will still be probably smaller than most boys of his age and and adults of his age. He's got with that associated ADHD. Most people when they see him think he's got ADHD and just treat him. Is that that's actually just a minor part of his life. He's also got serious anxiety, hyper awareness.
And if you put him in any room, he will be I'm all over a place and just trying to find a place in the room where he feels safe. And because of his school, last school in experience, we'd probably say that he has now got PTSD as well. And we had to put him out to school in Easter of year 6. And because the school he was going to, which was a special needs school, and was deemed by Offsted to be a failing school. Now I don't know when you comes to mind when you think of what a failing school is when it comes to offset on an offset assessment report, this school failed on everything as appalling.
And in the in the notes before the Super team came in, am is said that it was an unsafe environment for both children and staff, and they had been in 1 term, the term before we pulled him out. 10 cases of adults going to A and E. So just put that into context He's currently going through puberty at the moment, which if all of that wasn't him enough, we've now got his rate rating hormones through. It is it is constantly with us. If it's not, Tim, walking following my wife or me around like him a shadow for the entire day because he's at home because we can't get him into to school at the moment.
If it's not him, him going to bed and just capping away or call it calling out until the sleep medication kicks in and he goes to sleep, If it's not, the fact that in the in the mornings, we have to be as silent as we can until he naturally wakes up because if we were to wake him up before he was ready, we know we're gonna have an awful m day and even then the first up until his medication kicks in. He's an absolute nightmare. And then come 4 o'clock, we're basically into the danger zone again, ma'am. We we don't generally go out in and as a family pass, 5 o'clock. Usually, it just doesn't work for him in so many so many ways.
And our president is in just getting him looked after saying my wife and I can have some respite is difficult. And really, we have no because of his strength of the growth hormones if he has a violent outburst, Guillaume is very much - he's got to be someone who can control him And when I go I have to go away on a conference or overnight, he goes to save my dad because it's not really right to to leave him on his own with him, just my wife. And his his brother in the past we found him with his hands around his younger brother's neck and not realizing what he was doing. And so we've got to be careful. And so my dad is currently our our key childcare.
Now that in the last month got more challenging because my mom's been diagnosed with motor neuron disease, which means over the next 5 years, it's going to be pretty grim for him but also for us as a family. That is my difficult circumstance. If you want to if it just to maybe try and really give you an idea of what Harrison is like. If you were standing here next to me and and you were looking at him, I think either 2 things are going on inside him. 1 is either he is a very scared little boy who just is completely out of place.
He just wants a safe place. Or he just doesn't have a clue what is going on. He's got a mental maturity age of about 5 years old and that probably won't change for rest of his life. That is vice versa. That is the result of not himself.
That is a sin against him from his birthday. We didn't -- when we adopted him, we knew that there were special needs going to be attached to it. And we didn't know the severity of it because we've fetal alcohol syndrome. Who who knows it is such a spectrum. Being a godly man in difficult circumstance, Before we look at we look about, let's just very quickly go through what does he mean to be a godly man.
And I think when we talk about godliness, we're talking about being devoted to God as God is to himself. God in himself is holy holy holy we see from Isaiah 6. Divo devoted to God will mean separation from sin. It'll mean avoiding those things that God in his law says are wrong. That are against his and designed for humanity, it will be seeking to obey everything Jesus has commanded.
To be godly is to be like Christ because God has shown us in his son below Jesus what it means to live a holy life. Jesus says in John 4 34, my food is to do the will of him who sent me. Jesus is a holy man. He is a godly man. He is the 1 true godly man.
Why do we need to be godly men? Those of us who are Christians here today. Well, 1 we have been safe to live, a godly life, a visions 1. We said it tells us we've been chosen by God before foundation of a well to be holy and blameless in his sight. We are saved to be holy.
Also, it's commanded to be holy. God says in in the vitreous or 1 Peter wrote quotes it and be holy as I. Holy. We are to be holy because God, we are commanded to be holy. It is evidence of our salvation.
God's word is clear that those who live a habitual or unrepentant life. A habitual sin for life will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is a sign of our salvation. But it's also essential to please guard Hebrews 12 says without holiness, we will not see the lord. Now if that's the case, if if if we are called to be godly men.
Can we actually be godly men in difficult circumstances? Can you in your difficult circumstance be a godly man? And he answer has to be yes. And it has to be yes because the 1 perfect godly man was godly in the most difficult circumstance that will ever be faced. Jesus, the perfect man, the godly man, Had the more difficult circumstance than I will ever have and you will ever have and yet he never once sinned.
He always obeyed his father. So let's let's think about being godly men under difficult circumstances. So I really want us to think about it in in 2 ways. For first to think about how difficult circumstances can hinder our godliness. How difficult circumstances can can hinder our ability to to resist sin and to obey Christ.
Let me share some sins that I will be tempted by because of my difficult circumstance. I'm gonna expose myself here and These these are since I have to battle against, sometimes I'll give into them, other times I will be winning the battle. These are ones I need the spirits help to to fight. Let me talk about in the home life because this is where the mask is off. This is where the public face whether I'd be on a Sunday or whether I'm out with others, is is removed, where where people see you as you really are.
Let me give you some sense that are that that are hard to resist at home because of a difficult circumstance. His first bitterness have a lot in life. And as it piles on, as as the next challenge comes our way as the frustrations we face as we have to deal with different groups who are at the moment are big challenges with the education sector trying to get Harrison back into school. Emails not getting answered, the frustration with all of that. It's easy to come bitter.
Another sin is anxiety linked to a lack of trust. My wife and I often will talk to conversation will go like this. Can we do this for another 40 years? Because we we're real realistic that Harrison will never be independent. He will always require help and he probably will never be like even just going out on his own will probably not be ever something he can do.
Can we do this for another 40 years? Do we trust that God can give us what we need to be able to do this for another 40 years? In patience, When Harrison doesn't make any progress, yet some of it is in his fault, Some of it is because of the damage that's been done to him, but he is also a little sinner as well. And particularly when you're dealing with special needs children, disabled children, there there is this real difficult balance of of deciding. Is it sin or is it actually because of a chemical imbalance or or damage to their body that is caused by their their their their disability.
And and sometimes it is hard to separate it out. And sometimes you can be getting impatient at him for something he's got no control of. But yeah, other times, Actually, he has got control. We we talk to Harrison often about self control. And he goes, I can't help it.
But then at the same time, we say, or you're able to help it when you knew that you were going to be able to go on the Xbox in the afternoon. It was surprising you're able to hold yourself then when that was on the cards, but now that's off the cards you just lost in. You've got to work out whether whether you're getting impatient at at sin or because of his sinfulness or because he's not making progress which is in his fault. In anger, anger at him for his behavior. So easy to to fall into that.
He he's he's 1 that might be surprising. Sort of of your love for others growing cold. Do we love Harrison? Wife and I always say, of course, we do. Do we like him?
Some of the time? It's it's times when he makes his life really hard time. But there's other times when we actually find because of the whole circumstance, find our love for him growing cold. And that's an awful place for a parent to be. Something we have to battle against.
There's very times when they're unbelievable creeping, about god's goodness, about whether god knows what he is, doing. I think 1 of the challenge I think in all difficult circumstances is idea of of going to the world before God for help. The next challenge we face if Harrison comes up, where do we go first? Do we go to the Lord and us for helping prayer? Or do we go to the worldly experts and the wisdom it offers.
Out of just desperation, any any bread crumb that would make life. A little bit easier for us. And then every time when MV will creep in. You look at the families that don't have a special needs children, and that they can do things past 5 o'clock at night as a family. Without it being a massive deal.
And you just wish, oh, wouldn't it be great to be able to do that? So difficult circumstances can bring up a battle against sin in the home. That may be and we wouldn't have in quite the same way. But I think it's also exposed in in Church Life as well. Here was here are 3 ways where I think these difficult circumstances can hinder our our godliness when it comes to being part of the community of god's people.
Think 1 way is through self centeredness. Self centeredness. But there's there's an element that with dangerous, you think, oh, we we come to church to be served by others. Life is so crap at home. It's so busy.
It's so difficult. We've got nothing left. So we just come you come in and serve me. But actually, you know, that's wrong. We we we are we are to serve 1 another.
I mean, it's easy to to make excuses. And we're not gonna turn up today because we're too tired. Now, I don't have a choice. I work for a church, but The wife could easily throw out the, oh, it's just been a hard week. We're not going to bother.
Or to to not be committed, opportunity to not be a high priority to to get so wrapped up in this 1 circumstance. But it just becomes all consuming, but we don't have time or energy or or head space for it. Make excuse for for not serving because the circumstance just takes up too much of us. And even on behavior. Now there's been 1 of the things that comes back to us in a moment.
1 of his 1 of the things me and my wife have been clear right from the start was we were not gonna let Harrison's special need be an excuse for bad behavior or lack of parenting when it comes to church. We we we made sure that right from the start, we weren't gonna bring into church and just expect everyone to to cope with him as as he was and just let him have a free free pass. Yes, there are things about him that people will need to be patient about. But we were good gonna do everything we could to train him to be able to be part of a part of society as best. As he can and that includes the church community.
We didn't wanna make excuses. His special needs to be and it's used for really us not being able to being bothered and wanting an easy life. But in 1 other area when it comes to church life. And I think that's hiding the truth, hypocrisy. When people ask how was it going, where we all know what we answer is, oh, it's fine.
Or when it's clearly not. And it's taken a while for us as a couple to maybe pumble ourselves to actually say, Janard, it's been a bit of a rubbish week, is just hard work. But then he's also, I think, his his hypocrisy. 1 of the comments that's often said to us by people is is you are still doing such a great thing for taking him on. You must be so wonderful.
And our response is, well, how do you respond to that? But part of us also that if only you knew what happened 2 hours ago in the house, you wouldn't be thinking we're such great people then These are temptations that will stop me from being godly, but I need to battle against. Difficult circumstances can hinder our godliness. But also, on the other side, they can actually help our godliness. And and they should be used to help our godliness.
They can help our ability to be godly man. Let me read Psalm 130. Psalm 130 is is a really helpful Psalm. It's a it's a real precious Salmers, where he starts with a man or a people in distress and ends up in his place of hope. You you can you can imagine Christ singing this song full of distress and anguish.
Yet full of joy and confidence because there is a light is coming in a darkness when. Let me read Psalm 130. Out of the depths I call to you, Lord, listen to my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for help. Lord, if you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
But with you, there is forgiveness. So that you may be revered. I wait for the Lord. I wait and I put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than Watchmen for the morning.
More than Watchmen for the morning. Israel puts your hope in the Lord. For his faithful love with the lord. And with him is redemption in abundance. And he will redeem Israel.
From all is iniquities. Difficult circumstances can encourage us to do 4 things, which we find in in each of of of alarms, which I think are good that can help our godliness. First thing he can encourage us to do is to to weep. Out over the depths I I call to you. You can feel the desperation in in the voice.
And and there is something about a difficult circumstance that can help us. To do that. To to to weep, to to feel and that we because of the nature of this world. Because of the sins of others. Harrison has been affected by the sins of others.
His birth parents sinned against him in a terrible way. His life is ruined. In so many ways because of what his birth mother did in drinking for entire pregnancy. But then if you we know a bit about her story, and again, she's been sinned against going back. It's not quite as simple as as that.
But a sense of others have affected Harrison, and it it causes us to weep. Sometimes we see sparks of of maybe what would have been had Harrison not been damaged in the way. 1 of the things he's he loves doing is is the songs we sing in church. He goes and uses the piano keyboard in the house and he basically with the song tries to work out how to play the song. Just from knowing how the song goes.
We listen to him do that, and it's painful at times to listen to it. But then suddenly, you hear something, oh, I recognize that song. And I go downstairs and say, okay. How do you do? As as as he got someone's written out the letter so we can sort But now he's just by practicing in doing it.
It just makes us wonder, would he have been incredibly musical? Would he have had get a gift that I don't have anywhere near to to having. That's that's is that missing? Because of this. The sins of others, he causes us to weep for what he may be, but also, difficult circumstances exposes our own sin.
Caused us a week. I couldn't think of a time vividly when I just lost a plot with him. And as I as I put into bed and saying good night to him, I just started weeping. Started crying. He feels a bit weird.
And he's got to get to a stage where he got to the man in late thirties at the time and comforting single digits, child, special needs, that you're weeping away. He's got his hands around arms around you going. And don't worry, dad is okay. But he was an awareness of my own scene. I I lost a pry in that moment.
I shouldn't have done. I'm apologizing to him. I'm crying on him and he's thinking what's going on here. Difficult circumstances can encourage us to weep. And and in doing so, it drives us to prayer.
To call to the law, to to listen to voice because it brings us to our end. It makes us aware of of how needy we are. How we just can't do it on ourselves. We we don't possess what what it is to to cope with it, at least to to worship. Because as you see the sins of others, you see your own sin.
You see the damage that the world has done. The reason why there is a difficult circumstance, it does cause you to rejoice that there is a savior. A save you of that. Not only will forgive your sins, but renew this world. And then it drives you to wait.
I hope for Harrison. And won't be answered in this life. We we we know that. But we do trust that our time will come when our tears will be wiped away, when all things will be made new. When our own personal battles against sin will be be over, but also when Harrison will be made new.
We can say, This bird may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower. There is a time coming when all things will be made new, and we trust that that will include Harrison. And maybe we will have 1 day for joy of seeing him as he really was meant to be, in fact, better than we would have ever known him on this earth. And then the last thing, it encourages us to do is to witness. 1 of 1 of the things we tried to do a bit more is just to speak to to others about God's kindness to us.
Because God has been incredibly kind to us. I don't know. I'm just listening to to to to the description of Harrison. You may I don't know if you're thinking man, I'm glad I don't have to live with him. And I don't blame you for thinking that, sometime we do think we we didn't have to live with him.
So we had him 1 night away from him, a couple of him a week ago. And just to wake up in the morning and not hear him, you know, dad, I'm awake. Was just it was just an absolute joy. Little things, but it but it was was meaningful. If I had just been after going away with him for for him a week holiday.
When we when we take him around holiday, which we don't do very often. And I I normally share a room with him. Which meant that I got 3 hour sleep and then was woken up and then 3 hour sleep and woken up for 5 5 days. And he's still recovering from it. And sties for him.
But we we get to speak to others of the Lord how he has sustained us, how he has kept us going. Harrison is almost 14 now. We've had him with us since he was 13, 13 months. We've known of him 15 months since he came to the river. So the Lord has sustain this in a times.
There are times which have been joyful with him, but there have been times that are greatly and have been incredibly hard, but we are so thankful for the laws sustaining. But in terms of – if you find – if you're following your hand down right on the back, just want to get practical In terms of how those 4 things sort of flesh out, to make sure that difficult circumstances do help us to weaken to to to worship and to to to wait and to witness. What what can can can be done to practically proactively to strive for godliness within these difficult circumstances. Here here's what I've I've found. Firstly, in terms of life at home.
On the end of Luke's gospel, you have that instant with Mary and Martha, you know, and the 1 where Jesus and the disciples visit their their home. And Martha's all rushing around and trying to get everything ready. She wants Jesus to have a a slap up meal the disciples to be well and truly served. But Mary, as soon as Jesus comes in the door, just sits at his feet and listens. To him.
She chooses to stop, what she was doing, she chooses to sit, and she chooses to to listen. And to be godly and godly, we need to to do the same. You know, when when some of you have been on a plane recently, others you may be looking forward to to the day again when you can get on a plane. And right to the start, what do we get? We give those announcements and what do 1 of the announcements say where if the cabin pressure drops and and the oxygen mask fall down and make sure if you put it on yourself before you help others.
And for parents, you're thinking, that's just mad. We wanna make sure our child is helped, but I say no. The best way you can help them is by helping yourself. And and if we're actually going to be godly, we we do need to make sure that we're we're putting on our oxygen mask first before we do do anything, before we even try and tackle this difficult circumstance. And so way I've try to do that is by establishing patterns that both care for my soul and for my body.
And having daily time in the word, whatever way that's that's helpful has been incredibly helpful for me, so important for me just to have that time. Normally, it's before Harrison's wake. Wesley wakes up generally at 6 in the morning. And so that means I can get a good hour and just to get ready for the day and and to spend time with the Lord. But actually, the the thing I value the most is is really just being able to gather with god's people every Sunday.
That's that's have been if you ask me, how have I kept going for the last 13 years with Harrison? I would probably say he was gathering every Sunday with God's people has been that the life and the life God send really. Not only to to to spend time with others, to have close friends in a church who who I can be honest with, but actually gathering to worship has done my soul good each week hearing true son and being encouraged by them to to pray with others to hear god's word and read and preached. Even if it's me who's doing doing the preaching to to sit under the the word and have my soul ministered. But then also, this is something I've worked hard particularly in the last year, is establishing patterns that care for the body as well.
Thinking about diet, sleep, exercise, rest, Lack of self care looking after yourself exposes you to temptation anyway. You know that you're more likely to sin if you're really tired. You know you know you're more likely to sin if you're you're not in you're not getting the rest that you need. Well, if you've got difficult circumstances in your life, why make it even harder for yourself by not looking after your your body too. It's got bad difficult circumstance.
There's a number of sins that is gonna attack you anyway. Why expose yourself to even more by? A lack of caring for yourself. So I found it really important to to work hard on on those areas, both looking after myself and for my body. But when he comes to to life at church, again, going to come back to what I said earlier is is not letting my difficult situate difficult circumstance be an excuse for not being committed to the local church.
Kaye and I have I've really tried to do this well as a couple in 3 ways. Again, with our parenting, we've refused to let his special need be an excuse for going down the route of laziness of not parenting him. We're called as as parents to to train our children up. In a disciplined instruction of the lord, we're told to bring him up to know and love the Lord. And there is an I've read ephesians, I've read colossians, and I've noticed that there is an exemption in it.
There's no exemption saying train your child in the in the instruction of Lord unless they've got a special need of which you can basically do what you like. No. That that's not there in the bible. I'm responsible for doing it. I'm for for Harrison as much as I am.
I'm for Wesley who have put 2 children in the home. We refuse to ever let him be an excuse for our parenting. Second thing is we've we've worked hard to teach him to love the church as much as we do. And he does. Him and Wesley both love going to church They both will sing their hearts out.
Harrison is keen on coming to a prayer meeting we have on Zoom. And and joining him back. He often will be me going, dad, can I pray? And and it's from time to time he'll be allowed to do that, which is a great encouragement to others. We want to to say, look, let's let's encourage just because it's difficult having him around, let's him still showing him that church is important.
And then the other thing we've tried to do is It's just now speakers whenever we can of altered prayers and god goodness to people in the church. To not to not hide away, to not put on a mask to say, look, ear is tough, but God is incredibly kind to us. Difficult circumstances can hinder our ability to be godly, but they don't have to. In fact, they can help us.