Thank You Jen [Surprised by Joe]

One of my consistent drumbeats on this blog (and I hope I can keep up the rhythm) is to call myself and others to the biblical exhortation to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). What this means (among other things) is that we should constantly be searching our lives for things to be thankful for. Thankfully (!), I have a big one for today.

When my wife and I were first married in the fall of 2005, she and I immediately made the long trek north from Texas to Minneapolis. My ever-gracious wife was willing to put up with a honeymoon “on the road” in Texarkana and Graceland (don’t worry; we did spend a few days in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile and went to a Broadway show). Nevertheless, she left home and family in order to come north with me to make a new home and family. And though the past three years have been better than wonderful, there was something missing.

You see, we moved to Minneapolis so that I could go to school at The Bethlehem Institute. Consequently, my wife graciously agreed to work in order to help pay the bills. Her first job here was at a small company. As the new employee, she was given all the jobs that no one else wanted, which basically meant that she was charged with organizing an unheated shed in Minnesota in November and taking the trash through the snow to the dumpster across the parking lot. It was a terrible job. And yet she did it.

Eventually, we decided that it would be better for her not to work than to endure that. So she came home for a season, which meant she was all alone in a poorly-lighted basement apartment in Minnesota in the winter (you know, when the sun is out for, like, 4 hours per day). Needless to say, this was not an ideal situation.

But God soon provided a much better living situation (still underground, but with wonderful windows and fine landlords). What’s more, he provided her with a new job at Desiring God. And for the past 2 and a half years, she’s faithfully worked in a variety of capacities at Desiring God.

She’s been the administrative assistant for almost all of the directors at DG at one time or another. She worked for Bill Walsh when the International Outreach department launched. For a while, she split time between three bosses, diligently seeking to serve them however she could. She then transitioned to the Events department, where she served through multiple conferences, manning the info desk, coordinating volunteers, and serving conference-goers in countless ways.

From what her co-workers say, she’s excelled in her various positions, showing herself to be a competent and capable assistant. What’s more, as those who know her can attest, my wife has the amazing ability to brighten a room with her sheer presence and personality. Her sense of humor is hilarious and her laughter and joy are infectious. I’m tempted to think that the only reason I have friends up here is because everyone likes to be around her so much that they’re willing to put up with me.

So what was missing? Through all of this service she was not doing what she felt she was called to do deep in her heart. My wife loves the home and feels called to it. Vocational ministry and service is wonderful, but her heart has always called her homeward.

Make no mistake; even in the midst of her 9 to 5 job, she still found time to feed me, transform my wardrobe (she almost completely de-plaidified me, though there are still some stubborn hold-outs), and made our humble abode a welcoming and delightful place to be.

But because of her day job, she was unable to devote her full attention to the home. Like many working women, she was torn between work and home. All so I could study and prepare for the ministry. Her service outside of the home was not just a service to DG; it was fundamentally a service to me and to God.

So this is why I’m grateful: because finally, at long last, it is my great pleasure for her to officially “retire” and devote herself fully to our home and family. Today is my wife’s last day of work at Desiring God.

And so, I want to publicly say thank you to God for giving me such a wife. I don’t deserve her and never have. And yet here she is, serving, loving, honoring, and supporting me every day. Remarkable.

And Jenny, thank you for your glad willingness to serve me in this way for the past three years. I know you sacrificed so that I could chase the call of God on my life. I’m thrilled that you will now be able to chase your call. I’m thrilled that you can now use all your creativity and gifts to minister and bless me and others out of our home. I’m thrilled that you will be devoting yourself to raising our son. As Mike Tong said, Lord willing, you now know God’s call on your life for the next 20 years: Raise up a son to hope in God (and aid the Lord in the difficult task of sanctifying your husband).

So Jenny, for all this and more, thank you.

Ambushing Satan with Song [Surprised by Joe]

Over at Jen’s blog, she just posted on one of the oft-used weapons in the Rigney family spiritual arsenal: song.

Such a view of the role of singing is eminently biblical.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-21)

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15-16)

Common elements in both verses: singing in your heart, with other people, with thankfulness.

Back in 1985, a much younger-sounding Pastor John preached a sermon from 2 Chronicles 20 entitled “Ambushing Satan with Song.” In the story, Judah’s armies are preparing to go to war with the Moabites and Ammonites. Before going out, the people worship God in prayer and singing. Then, when they go to battle, the choir is the tip of the spear, leading the people to victory over their enemies.

From this story I would draw out the following exhortation: Spiritual worship and spiritual warfare should be carried out with singing. In verse 19 when all the people fell down to worship, the choir stood up to sing. And in verse 21 when the people went out to meet the enemy, the choir went before them with songs of victory.

And even more than that, I think that the writer wants us to learn from verse 22 that the enemies of God are thrown into confusion by the songs of God’s people. Or to put it another way, God has appointed the use of spiritual songs as an effective weapon against his archenemy Satan.

Take a look at the sermon, then head over to Jen’s blog and let her know what songs you use to fight the good fight.

Seeing the Boy [Surprised by Joe]

Jen and I had an ultrasound appointment this week. The boy is growing nicely, and, as this is the one time in his life when he can kick and punch his mother with impunity, he is taking full advantage.


We did have a little scare on the ultrasound: a calcium buildup on his heart. But the testing of our faith produces perseverance, and God was gracious to us in multiple ways, not least of them the prayers of many. And, as best as the doctors can ascertain, everything is fine with the boy. Getting bigger and cuter every day.

You can read the details of the week over at my wife’s blog.